In the end of June this year, LinkedIn China announced the launch of Chitu, a professional social networking app independently developed by the local team in China. Chitu is now available for users to download and has sent out invitation code to the public.
Chitu is an independent new product in the Chinese market run separately from LinkedIn globally, and it’s the very first case in which an international Internet company adopts a double brands strategy to conquer a specific market.
“Chinese users are divided into different groups and there are certainly needs for us to run an independent product that caters to Chinese users,” explained Shen Boyang, vice president of LinkedIn and president of LinkedIn China, “Besides the global platform, we also need a ‘Chinese LinkedIn’.”
Chitu, literally means red rabbit in Chinese, was named after a war-steed in the historical novel Romance of The Three Kingdoms. LinkedIn China hopes to use Chitu to conquer the Chinese market, which has been always short on such networking services all along. Chitu is also expected to be a powerful career boost for many young talents in China.
The following are some mainstream professional social networking services in China, let’s have a deeper look into this particular market:
Chitu: designed for young professional talents who have just joined the workforce
Unlike LinkedIn, which’s international and high-end, Chitu targets young professional talents in China, putting more emphasis on O2O social networking.
LinkedIn decided to adopt a double brands strategy to run Chitu and LinkedIn. While Chitu’s designed for young people, LinkedIn is geared towards high-end and international users. Although they both belong to the same company, Chitu and LinkedIn actually have different voices. Chitu obviously has a more fun, refreshing and interesting atmosphere and LinkedIn is somehow for elite users.
“People used to think that the workplace is serious, rational and professional. According to our search on the young professional talents in China, however, it occurred to us it could be another way around, ” Shen Boyang said. “Therefore we hope to make Chitu interesting, fun, young, and fresh. It’s supposed to make our users feel good when using it. Through reinventing the design, product’s functions, the UI, and LOGO, we can make our users realize that professional social networking could also be fun and genuine. ”
As for its target audience, LinkedIn is more about international professional talents, overseas students, and people who need to expand their network overseas. In China, LinkedIn clearly doesn’t really fit in. Young professional talents who have just entered the workforce and are trying to get promotions are the mainstream users of such services. Chitu is a product for them. It pays more attention to these young professional talents and allows them to expand their network, gather useful contacts, meet interesting strangers, and have online, and even offline activities with each other.
Maimai: network for contacts and business purpose
Maimai is a professional networking app based on contacts. Its most outstanding feature is that it can provide you with quite a lot available data right after the users finish registering their accounts, which is quite astonishing. Every hidden contact and possible professional relationship will be processed and presented to the users.
The growing contact base enables users to further expand their social network. A user might have 200 existing contacts and through Maimai’s service, the user will get to know the friends of his or her friends, allowing the users to quickly expand the network. This is where Maimai shines the most.
Maimai targets middle and high-end users, covering industries from the Internet industry, IT industry, finance industry, to consultant industry etc. In last September, Maimai had already started to undergo commercialization, rolling out services such as recruiting, consulting, and supplementary financing.
Networking for pure business purpose is an apparent advantage of Maimai compared to other products on the market. Maimai creates a platform where professional talents can have effective communication on the things they have encountered in their workplace. Additionally, users can also use Maimai to meet friends alike and talk about the industry they are in, the development of their career, and even the bad things happened on work.
On Maimai, users can post updates with real ID or anonymously. Gossiping anonymously is probably the most active sector of Maimai on which users lash out and gossip about their problems in the office and some anecdotes within the industry. It’s no doubt a place for professional talents to relieve their tension and pressure and share interesting things with other users at the same time, making work less boring.
Huihui: a ‘professional’ social networking application
‘Professional’ social networking can’t really be achieved online. Offline meetings are always necessary, especially for professionals who always talk about efficiency and outcomes. Whether it’s finding a project, discussing about products, or getting business cooperation, it can all be achieve through Huihui.
Huihui’s greatest feature that sets itself apart from the crowd is its mechanism that triggers offline in-person meetings, which combines professional networking with everyday scenarios and explores potential contacts for the users. New users are required to provide the information of their companies and current position to verify their identities. Moreover, Huihui will make contact recommendation based on the geo-location, users’ current industry, phone contacts etc. to help users find more relevant contacts and create meeting possibilities.
Users can also post a meeting card which includes basic information about the meeting such as the topic, meeting form, fee, the time, and how many people will attend. The meeting card can be posted publicly or privately among friends.
When users agree on a meeting, they will automatically become friends on Huihui and the chatting function will become available for them to communicate better since a meeting requires basic personal information about each other and the details need to be worked out as well.
Renmaitong: a real-name networking platform for business professionals
Renmaitong is a new form of business social networking product that allows users to have communication with their real names. Through making each social circle more specific and making it better, Renmaitong is able to offer great assistance to users to boost their career on the level of social networking.
Renmaitong’s users can manage their contacts, expand their network, scan name cards, exchange digital name cards, manage schedule, customize news feed, and share industry expertise etc.
9tong.com’s strategic goal is to provide a one-stop service that includes networking management and business information sharing etc. In the future, 9tong.com will finish establishing its product layout and continue to build a brand new business social networking platform.
For multiple reasons, China has always been short on professional social networking products. Though PC clients such as Tianji and Ruolin were getting a great number of users at the beginning, they gradually quiet down after a short period of blossoming. Their long-term active users are mostly head hunters and HRs, which is a sad reality that shows these two products are indeed struggling.
However, Chinese companies never back down in the face of difficulties, instead they rise. To change the current situation, Chinese professional social networking products are now becoming more local, fitted for Chinese users. And it’s for the same reason that LinkedIn China developed Chitu.
China’s mobile Internet has been booming in recent years and the industry has been reflecting on why professional social networking failed to take off in the country. WeChat and QQ both possess an incredibly large number of users and have been perceived as great competitors in the field of professional social networking for that. However, Maimai’s founder Lin Fan believed that vertical professional networking products had more chances when compared to WeChat for they were more specific and could cater to specific users.
Also, as the market demand grows, the market is no doubt becoming better . The failures and difficulties the industry has encountered and the lessons the industry has learned in all those years will definitely be of great value to drive the industry forward. We have every reason to believe that professional social networking industry is sure to boom in the near future!
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @itlaoyou-com, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at ECHO), working for TMTpost.